EASTERN EMPIRES: FOREIGN OWNERSHIP IN CEE MEDIA
European Federation of Journalists
In 2002 EFJ published a report entitled European Media Ownership: Threats on the Landscape. The report was part of an EFJ project about the impact of globalisation on European media, focusing on a survey of media ownership within, mainly, European Union countries. This current report complements the first one by analysing media ownership in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, including the countries that will form part of an enlarged European Union. This report is one contribution toward building awareness of an aspect of economic activity in CEE countries that few people are aware of - the growing domination of the media by foreign media groups through a process of market colonization which has taken place since 1989. This report provides dramatic evidence of the sheer scale and domination of sections of the media by foreign media groups that have moved into many CEE countries. The old state monopoly of the media, particularly the press, has been replaced by commercial monopolies. There are strong indications that aggressive commercial policies are being pursued at the expense of journalistic standards, threatening pluralism and undermining journalists' professional and social rights. Journalists in CEE countries are particularly vulnerable to this downward pressure due to the weaknesses of their trade unions. In response to such threats, the EFJ is demanding an urgent trade union building campaign with the support of established unions in the parent companies.
Another concern of the report is the role and impact of US media within Europe. This has been the subject of intense debate over the years, starting with the rise of Hollywood and the international popularity of its films from the 1940s and its impact on filmmaking in European countries. Now there is an increasing presence of US-based global media groups (Viacom, Disney, AOL Time Warner) and other US-owned groups (Scandinavian Broadcasting Services, Central European Media Enterprises) in the CEE countries. What is interesting however is that the main focus of US media groups has been in the film and audio-visual areas of the media, rather than the print media (it is European-based media groups that have been in the forefront of expansion into print media ownership in CEE countries). The view of American media groups, and successive American governments, has been that broadcasting should be treated like any other commercial activity and that quotas such as those imposed by the Television Without Frontiers directive (a directive first implemented in 1989 which required broadcasters to transmit at least 50% of European originated programmes on their channels) are anti-free trade and should be discarded. There is at present an intense effort going on to weaken the TWF directive by lobbyists. Another key areas lobbyists are focusing on is advertising. Advertising is at the centre of a commercialised culture, but it doesn't just happen - it requires advertiser-friendly policies and regulations to allow it to flourish. One objective of groups like the World Federation of Advertisers is to move from regulation to self-regulation and get what it sees as the restrictive controls and limits on advertising removed from a future TWF directive. The U.S. has also been a driving force on trade liberalization through the WTO and GATT. In the current round of GATT negotiations its position is that it favours complete liberalisation of trade in audiovisual goods so that the sector would be treated like any other commodity or service. This aspect of American activity and influence conflicts with the principles that have guided the development of EU media policy - which consider that the audiovisual field has a special position and should be totally exempt from any liberalisation measures.
> THE MAIN EUROPEAN PRINT MEDIA GROUPS IN CEE COUNTRIES
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ): The German media giant has a European empire of more than 130 newspapers. It is the second largest German newspaper publisher, after Axel Springer. After 1989 the group expanded through the acquisition of regional papers in CEE countries. WAZ sits in a dominant position in Bulgaria due to its ownership of the Bulgarian News Group and through its control of the 168 Chasa Media Group and Media Holdings. It has the two largest and most influential dailies, Tschassa and Dneven Trud, and dominates regional newspapers and magazine publishing. In Croatia WAZ has a 50% stake in Europa Press Holdings (EPH) and publishes two dailies, and 11 magazines, including the weekly news magazine, Globus. WAZ also publishes five dailies in Hungary and has a stake in two Romanian newspapers. One of WAZ's four managing directors, Bodo Hombach, and the former coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe, is clear about the potential for further commercial expansion in SEE. Recently WAZ, already co-owner of the Belgrade daily, Politika, acquired the Podgorica daily, Vijesti , and there are reports that it wants to acquire another Serbian paper, the Novi Sad daily, Dnevnik. In terms of his approach to publishing, Mr. Hombach stresses a much sharper commercial approach and also highlights cooperation with advertisers. He believes that regional newspapers have to change from being just carriers of local and regional news in order to attract more readers.
Axel Springer Verlag: Axel Springer Verlag claims to be the largest newspaper publishing company in Europe. Bild is the best selling national daily in Europe, with sales of around 4.5 million. There are reports that the company intends to launch a Polish edition of Bild in about 12 months time. Apart from Hungary, where Springer publishes eight daily regional papers and one Sunday title, its main focus in CEE countries is magazine publishing. It publishes 16 magazines in Hungary, 14 in Poland and 8 in Romania but it is active in other CEE countries as well.
Passauer Neue Presse (PNP): This group is one of the largest publishers of regional newspapers in Europe. Apart from its operations in Germany (Passauer Neue Presse: 15 local editions and a daily circulation of 180,000) and Austria (Oberösterreichische Rundschau: a weekly with 12 regional editions in upper Austria and a Sunday free paper delivered to 500,000 households in the same region) the group has furthered its ownership of titles in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. From 1990 PNP started to acquire regional daily publishing rights in Bohemia. In the mid-1990s, it obtained titles in Prague and in 2001 the last independent regional titles in Moravia coupled with two national dailies in Prague, giving it almost 100% of the regional newspaper market, and a part of the national newspaper market.
Ringier: In the late '80s, Switzerland largest publishing house Ringier, took advantage of the opportunity to invest in Central and Eastern Europe's newly liberalised markets. Today, Ringier publishes more than 20 newspapers and magazines in Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Orkla: Orkla Media is a division of a Norwegian conglomerate. It has newspaper interests in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and owns the largest regional newspaper in Lithuania, Kauno diena. It also owns two regional newspapers in the Ukraine. In Poland Orkla owns 51% of Presspublica, publisher of the Warsaw-based national broadsheet daily, Rzeczpospolita. It also owns 13 local daily newspapers, and recently purchased Gazeta Lubuska, one of the country's largest local newspapers, making it one of Poland's biggest media groups with a market share of 23%. Orkla Media is unique for establishing a European Works Council for employees (covering Denmark, Sweden and Norway and now expanding in Poland) and for making it part of its publishing principles to now allow interference from governments, owners, advertisers nor any other interest groups with editorial decisions.
> US MEDIA GROUPS: OWNERSHIP AND STRATEGIES
In terms of U.S. exports, film and television products rank with aircraft sales as the top categories. The U.S. government, trade organisations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and global media groups like Viacom and AOL Time Warner, are not disinterested bystanders in terms of the way legislation at national and European level develops. They all actively lobby in different ways to ensure the protection of U.S. media interests. Four factors are important in assessing the role and impact of U.S. media within CEE countries.
1. First of all, one of the unintended consequences of the 1989 TWF directive was that the policy to allow Europe-wide satellite networks was seized by a new generation of broadcasters, and this resulted in the development of a number of satellite and cable channels which relied heavily, or exclusively, on U.S. programming. Many U.S. media groups based their Europe-wide operations in the United Kingdom because during the 1980s the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher adopted broadcasting deregulation.
2. Secondly, there are a number of U.S. media companies which own television, radio, publishing and other media outlets, like outdoor advertising, within Europe.
3. Thirdly, there is the promotion and sale of U.S. television programming to different media organisations, which want to show U.S. films and television series on their own national channels. The TWF Directive has the 50% quota on European broadcasting for economic and cultural reasons precisely because there was a fear that otherwise US programming would become dominant over European broadcasting systems.
4. Finally, there is the link between what is a central feature of U.S. media - the delivery of audiences to advertisers to sell their products - and the concerns of U.S. advertising and media groups to lobby for the relaxation of advertising controls both on terrestrial television and on new media, including the Internet and interactive TV, within the European Union. Whereas some European CEE countries limit or even ban advertising on programmes watched by young children, U.S. media groups see children as an important commercial market, and oppose such limitations on advertising. Globalisation means that brands seek to find new ways to reach audiences including product placement, and the marriage of editorial/entertainment and commercialism. In the U.S. Robert McChesney and John Bellamy Foster have documented the disturbing extent of this commercial tidal wave and its impact on U.S. media (Monthly Review, March 2003).
> U.S. MEDIA GROUPS
Viacom: It is one of the top five global media groups, providing a number of thematic channels across CEE countries. MTV has a 'think globally, act locally' philosophy and MTV Europe was launched in 1987, and distributed by cable, satellite and terrestrial services. It is now broadcast on every digital platform in Europe and in May 2002 launched its latest, MTV Romania, which combines locally-produced Romanian-language programming, a music play-list tailored to Romanian music tastes combined with MTV's international programme inventory. Other channels include Nickelodeon and Noggin for children, Comedy Central, the movie channels Showtime and The Movie Channel. All of these channels can draw on the films and programmes which Viacom has through its ownership of Paramount Films, the U.S. CBS television network and a huge array of publishing, radio and other media assets.
The Walt Disney Company: A paradigm of the global media company, present in every sector of media activity: film and television production (owners of the U.S. television network ABC), broadcasting (both free-to-air and thematic), home video, licensing, merchandising and theme parks. The Disney Channel was launched in the UK in 1995 and its strategy is to either make a local language feed available, (beamed in via satellite), or to place a block of programming on a network, which is branded with their name. Disney also acquired Fox Family Worldwide in 2001 and has a majority stake in Fox Kids Europe, based in Amsterdam. It has channels in Poland and Romania, and is also the largest distributor of children's programming in Europe, with distribution in over 50 CEE countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Time Warner: Loaded down by a massive burden of debt and the collapse
of the share price value of AOL, the company is still a major global player.
AOL Time Warner Europe is the division, which coordinates its European
operations. The following divisions are active in CEE countries:
Liberty Media: Based in Denver, Colorado the company is run by John Malone, who built up his cable empire, TCI, in the U.S. before selling it to the giant telecoms group, AT&T, for $54bn in 1999. Liberty Media has a 76% stake in the pan- European cable group, UPC, through its cable subsidiary, UnitedGlobalCom (UGC). UPC also has a 20% stake in SBS (see below). However UPC, the largest cable company in Europe, is in a precarious financial position and is going through a financial restructuring which will leave Malone with a 50% share. Liberty's head of investment, Mike Erickson, said, 'When we first looked at Europe the pie was quite big; unfortunately it isn't anymore. Fundamentally we're an opportunistic company and opportunities are now cropping up in the U.S. that weren't there before.' UPC is present in 17 European markets and in May 2002 had about 8.5m subscribers to its cable services. In CEE countries it is active in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic. John Riordan, the President of the European Cable Communications Association (ECCA), is also the CEO of UPC. The ECCA conference in Prague (April 2003) had the theme Broadband Cable in an enlarged eEurope.
Central European Media Enterprises Ltd (CME): A Bermuda-based company, run by Chief Executive and multimillionaire, Ronald Lauder, operates commercial television stations in CEE countries, with controlling interests in five leading stations: Slovakia, Markiza TV (80%) and KANAL A (90%); Slovenia, POP TV (86%); Romania, PRO TV (66%) and Ukraine, Studio 1+1 (60%). CME also started TV Nova, in the Czech Republic in 1994, as a joint venture with six Czechs and Slovaks. The station, broadcasting popular programming, (including pornography), accounted for an astounding 70% of the audience at one stage. Vladimir Železný one figure who came to prominence, took control of the TV station from CME. Lauder filed a complaint in August 1999 against the government for a breach of an investment treaty signed with the US government in 1991. The long and tortuous dispute with the Czech government and regulatory authorities for compensation was completed when an international arbitration panel ruled in March 2003, that the Czech government must pay CME compensation of 270m ($355m) for failure to protect CME business activities in the Czech Republic. Fred Klinkhammer, CME chief executive, said it was unlikely that that CME would resume operations in the Czech Republic but hinted that CME would bid for a TV license in Croatia and explore other opportunities in Latvia, Poland and Hungary.
Scandinavian Broadcasting System SA: A Luxembourg registered company but U.S.-controlled and run by Executive Chairman, Harry Sloan. SBS was founded in Scandinavia, where it has 19 radio stations in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It expanded by buying TV stations in Belgium and the Netherlands. From 1998, it began to acquire stations in Hungary and Slovenia, followed by Poland, Romania and Hungary. In its 2001 report, filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2002, UPC Investments, a subsidiary of the cable company UPC owned by John Malone's Liberty Media, had a 21.2% share in the company. Another investor is CanWest (7.2%). The company has 12 television and 20 radio stations across 11 CEE countries in Europe and claims a 'European broadcasting footprint reaching 140 million people' with 'entertainment driven programming focusing on young target groups'. In CEE countries, it has interests in three television stations which all have the same formats and approaches as entertainment and game shows like Who Wants To be A Millionaire?, Kids Say The Darndest Things and blockbuster movies. SBS has deals with major Hollywood studios like Warner Bros and Dreamworks, and rights to ENDEMOL formats, which enable it to do this. SBS has a policy of group-buying, which enables it to use television and film products acquired internationally on its different channels. The company report states that 80% of programming hours were filled with international acquisitions, while locally produced programming only accounted for 20%. Interestingly the report states that this 20% of locally produced programming represented 61% of total programming costs but 'locally produced programming generates an audience magnet effect' and reinforces the local image of the station. The SBS report also goes into detail about another service, i.e. as a leading provider of subtitling and localization services in Europe, through a company, Broadcast Text International, which has approximately 35% of the international broadcast sub-titling market in Europe. 'Feature films and successful international series are acquired and then subtitled or dubbed into the local language. Their suppliers include: Paramount, Dreamworks, the Walt Disney Company, Sony Television, Universal Studios, Time Warner, 20th Century Fox, the BBC (United Kingdom), Beta-Taurus (Germany), Venevision (Venezuela) and Protele (Mexico).' SBS also have an agreement with Viacom to broadcast rights of the Paramount Television group which gives access to 14,500 series episodes and 2,000 films. Clearly SBS is a major conduit for the provision of a range of US programming for its own stations across Europe, but also for other stations wanting dubbed or sub-titled US films and television programmes. In Hungary, TV2 was the first commercial broadcaster in the country. SBS has a 49% voting interest and an 84% economic interest in the station. The station 'provides entertaining and informative programmes targeted at the young, urban population'. According to figures in the company report, out of an average broadcasting day of 21,5 hours, locally produced programming represented an average of four hours, and the remainder American-produced programmes broadcast in Hungarian such as The A-Team, Friends and Hercules. Leading advertisers include Procter and Gamble, Unilever, Sara Lee, Henkel and Beierdorf. In Romania, SBS has a 40% stake in the Prima TV channel, which covers 87% of the country through satellite-to-cable distribution. The balance between foreign-produced programmes subtitled in Romanian, and locallyproduced programmes of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? and Kids Say The Darndest Things was 50%. Advertisers, apart from mobile phone companies, included Kraft Foods, McDonald's and Wrigley's. In Poland SBS has a 33% stake in the TVN station. American-produced programmes are subtitled, voiced-over or dubbed in Polish. Leading advertisers include Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Danone, Colgate Palmolive, Coca Cola, SC Johnson and Nestle.
Bulgaria was one of the last East European CEE countries to pass a broadcasting law in July 1996, after some six years of preparation. As a result of this delay and in the absence of proper legislation, the expansion of commercial operations and the proper development of the public sector suffered a great deal. There were serious criticisms about lack of transparency in the licensing of broadcast media and allegations of corruption against politicians responsible for prices and regulation. A new Radio and Television Act in 2001 created the Council for Electronic Media (CEM), the regulatory body responsible for overseeing public service broadcasting and the licensing and regulation of commercial broadcasting. Representatives are chosen by the Parliament and the President, and it has been accused of acting in the interests of the ruling party. There is the additional problem funding - Bulgarian National Radio and Television receive most of their budget from state funding and both are perceived to be under the control of the ruling coalition and lacking editorial independence. An independent body called the Bulgarian Media Coalition (BMC) has been formed to campaign for improved media transparency, the rights of journalists, and the independence of regulatory bodies.
Foreign media investors entered Bulgaria at the beginning of 1997 when the German WAZ group bought 168 Chassa pressGroup, the owner of several titles and dailies. In effect, the old state newspaper monopoly gave way to a foreign corporate monopoly. Now WAZ is the biggest foreign owner in the Bulgarian market . In 1997, WAZ bought the two largest and most influential dailies 24 Tschassa, the first private paper in Bulgaria, and Trud. However, it was necessary to bankrupt them first (there was a lawsuit in which WAZ was accused of attempting to monopolise the newspaper market through a dumping policy on prices, distribution and advertising. In recent years, the local editions of WAZ have put many of the local newspapers out of business. The national magazine market is also dominated by WAZ. Bulgarian newspapers started to consolidate their position and a new structure called Bulgarian Newspaper Publishers Association was established to fight the domination of WAZ. Most of the big national newspapers and some local editions created web issues as an innovative approach to compete with WAZ. Springer is another German player in Bulgaria and it publishes an "import" magazine called Auto Bild Bulgaria, the national version of the famous German published magazine Auto Bild.
In 2000 Rupert Murdoch became the second biggest foreigner media investor when he launched the first private TV ( bTV) in 2000. The giant media company holds 100% of bTV through Balkan News Corporation, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. bTV was launched as the first national private television on Efir2 frequencies (Efir2 was the second channel of Bulgarian National Television), which ceased broadcasting on June 1, 2000. By January 2003 it had become the most popular channel, with 49% of viewers. Public television is under pressure partly from the success of bTV. By January 2003 BNT's viewing share had fallen to 20.7%.
The Greek Antenna TV SA is currently the third largest foreign investor in the country after WAZ and News Corporation. In 2003 the Antenna Group bought 100% of Nova Televisiya and Radio Express. Close to 60% of Bulgaria's TV householders (1.76m) are cable customers. US financier George Soros entered the Bulgarian cable market through the Southeast Europe Equity Fund (SEEF), run and sponsored by Soros Private Funds Management. SEEF bought a majority interest in cable operator Eurocom in November 2001, and is committed to spending USD10 million to develop its networks and broadband access.
Whilst the media in Croatia now enjoys considerable freedom after years of restrictions and control this freedom is selectively available to the owners and editors, but doesn't extend to the conditions under which journalists have to work. Croatia has experienced a considerable encroachment of foreign capital in recent years. Journalists in Croatia are facing new challenges due to commercialization and concentration within the media sector. Increased casualisation amongst journalists is a particular symptom as they are increasingly forced into freelance and unstable employment arrangements. Unlike many other CEE countries in the region, the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (TUCJ) has succeeded in negotiating a collective agreement with EuropeaPressHoldings (50% owned by the German company WAZ). The agreement was signed in May 2002 and provides for a five-day week, holidays, paid overtime, professional rights and other benefits … and has become a very positive sign for journalists throughout the region
In Croatia, the biggest foreign media investor is the German WAZ which owns 50 percent of the Zagreb Europa Press Holding Company and which publishes the daily Jutarnji List, the weekly Globus, numerous specialized magazines for women and teenagers, and the Croatian editions of Playboy and Cosmopolitan. The German Burda also has interest in one magazine called Lisa. Burda (80%) together with RCS Editori (20%) owns the magazine and distributes it around Eastern and Central Europe.
The Finnish Sanoma Magazines decided in 2001 to set up a joint venture in Croatia. The joint venture in Croatia represents the first international expansion to be carried out by Sanoma Magazines International since SanomaWSOY's acquisition of VNU's Consumer Information Group and its merger with SanomaWSOY's magazine publisher, Helsinki Media. After that acquisition, Sanoma Magazines became Europe's fifth-largest publisher of consumer magazines and, with the addition of Croatia, is active in 10 markets across Europe with some 300 titles in its portfolio. Sanoma Magazines Zagreb launched the Croatian edition of the leading women's fashion magazine Elle at the end of 2002. The Croatian version is the first edition among the ex-Yugoslavian CEE countries after Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania. Sanoma also publishes the monthly magazine Klik and the weekly star magazine Story.
The Austrian Styria Media Group is the third biggest media group in Austria. The group acquired the Croatian newspaper, Vecernji list, in December 2000. Styria publish Vecernji list through Tiskara Zagreb, Styria's printing company. The paper is the most widely read and has the highest daily circulation in Croatia with an average of 712,000 readers daily. Since February 2003, the edition has been restructured as follows: 8 regional editions, 1 International edition and 1 edition for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its layout has also been redesigned. The state-run radio and television system, HRT, is still the dominant source of information for the bulk of the population and the government exerts excessive control over its operations. The third channel of HRT is to be sold and Styria Group is among the applicant companies.
Rows, scandals and lawsuits have dominated Czech broadcasting in the recent past, mainly because the regulatory institutions are weak and open to influence by the main political parties. Foreign media owners have seen this as an opportunity for an expanding media market and have been keen to exploit commercial possibilities. The Czech Republic has no restriction on foreign media investing in the market, allowing the multinationals to penetrate the market with ease. However, the operator of an enterprise must be a legal entity in the country - that is why all the big European companies have branches in the Czech Republic. In terms of foreign media, the Czech Republic has the largest investment after Poland. The fact that the bulk of the press is in foreign hands has implications for the Czech Republic. One is the failure of Czech newspapers to exercise the important role of public watchdog because the foreign owners do not want to cause controversy through investing in investigative journalism or criticising the government in times o crisis. The other is the lack of diversity. All Czech and Moravian regional press are controlled by a German publishing firm, which produces regional newspapers centrally, with only minor variations in each regional paper.
German media companies are well established in the Czech Republic. German media investment started in 1990 when Passauer Neue Presse (PNP) started to plan an eastward expansion with the purchase of regional daily papers. PNP has at least 11 regional dailies and 13 regional weeklies making it one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. With its dailies the group reaches a circulation of more than 825,000 copies a day, and the weeklies 335,000 copies. Axel Springer Verlag has also entered the Czech market through its own subsidiaries and in cooperation with other publishers and has 100% ownership of 8 magazines. The German Bauer fully owns 10 weeklies. The strategy of Bauer is to offer to Czech readers the same magazines as in Poland or Romania. Bauer produces uniform magazines with country pages. Bertelsmann has its own interest in the Czech market with 37% ownership of shares in 6 magazines. The media giant company is associated in this adventure with Passauer Neue Presse group, which owns 51% of the magazines. Other German investors include Holtzbrinck and Rheinische Post. Holtzbrinck publishes one daily called Zapadoceske Noviny together with Dow Jones. The group has also an interest in Economia, a business and information magazine, through Handelsblatt - a joint venture between Holtzbrinck and Dow Jones. The Rheinische Post group owns a major participation in two dailies called Lidove noviny and Mlada fronta dnes (circulation of 300 000).
Ringier CR was founded in 1990 and has been 100 per cent owned by the Swiss Ringier since 2000. The company is the leading and most important publisher in the Czech Republic. Ringier publishes ten newspapers and magazines including Blesk, a tabloid with the largest daily sale in the country. Bertelsmann's Gruner +Jahr has a 25% stake. Ringier also owns the Ringier Print a.s. print works in Ostrava. Ringier currently also owns 27 percent of the share capital of PNS, a national press distribution company.
The Finnish Sanoma Magazines International (SMI) has a strong position in the Czech Republic. SMI entered the Czech Republic in 1992 through the acquisition of a 60% stake in Mona Praha. SMI bought the remaining 40% in 1993. Sanoma Magazines is th market leader in consumer titles in the Czech Republic, with a 26% market share. Vlasta is the country's largest women's magazine. In 2001, SMI acquired Roof, which publishes home decoration titles. Sanoma magazines also fully own Strategie Praha and became the market leader in B2B market in the Czech Republic. Strategie's publications are focused on the marketing and communication business.
Four companies (PNP, Rheinische Post, Ringier and Sanoma- two German, one Swiss, one Finnish) between them control 80% of newspapers and magazines in the Czech Republic and also own Post and Newspaper Service (PNS) and have an exclusive deal with the distributor. Irena Valova of the Czech Media Observatory points out, 'The whole market of the Czech Republic will be dependent on the monopoly in the distribution of the press which will be held jointly by a few publishers.' The Media Observatory also believes the PNS deal eliminates competition: 'Their vertical integration, their fusion into a monopoly on the territory of the Czech Republic limits, or totally eliminates, the access of other European publishers, let alone the Czech ones, to the Czech market.' The irony is that when Czechoslovakia was part of the Eastern bloc PNS was the monopoly distribution agency for the Communist Party's press operations - and now a commercial monopoly has replaced it.
The French Lagardère has important stakes in the Czech radio market. It fully owns Europa 2, the first private radio in the Czech Republic. Europa 2 was also the first radio to start co-operation with Czech TV stations. Lagardère owns the radio Frekvence 1 which started to broadcast in 1993. This station has a daily audience of 1 million listeners. Programmes mainly consist of music, information and entertainment. In the press sector, Hachette Filipacchi 2000 spol is the joint venture of the French group for magazine activities. Lagardère owns a stake of 51% in the joint venture in association with the local Komunikace 2000 (49%). Lagardère is also involved in the printing plants sector where CZ Press is one of the most important distributors.
The public service broadcaster, Ceska Televize (CT), was the focus of a bitter dispute in 2000 over the appointment of a new chief executive, Jiri Hodac. Open rebellion by CT, emotive broadcasts and public protests took place between December 2000-January 2001 and Jiri Hodac was deposed. Since the end of 2002 Czech TV has only had a temporary General Director. In addition the funding problems of the two national channels has had an impact on the production of programmes and as a result audiences have shifted to commercial channels (the audience share for CT1 is below 20% and for CT2 8%). The commercial broadcaster TV Nova, which began in 1994 with foreign backing by the US owned CME, achieved a remarkable 70% audience share but then became the subject of an ongoing ownership dispute between Vladimir Zelezny and Ronald Lauder. Lauder filed a complaint in 1999 against the Czech government for its failure to protect his investment in TV Nova and after three years, his company CME has won compensation from the Czech government in the amount of 270 million, more than the government spends per year on healthcare.
There are currently 15 satellite broadcasters and 94 cable TV broadcasters in the Czech Republic. Foreign companies head the three most influential cable consortia: UPC Ceska Republika is owned by United Pan-Europe Communications in the Netherlands, which in turn is owned by John Malone's US-based Liberty Media. It has around 400,000 subscribers. Intercable CZ is owned by the Netherlands telecoms company KPN, and has over 200,000 subscribers. TES Media is part of Central Europe Cable Holdings, owned by ING Baring, USA, and has about 100,000 subscribers. US companies also have satellite channels in the Czech Republic including MTV Europe, NBC Europe, CNN International and HBO.
The Estonian media market is one of the smallest in Europe. The population of Estonia is only 1.46 million, of which 70% are Estonians. Immediately after liberation from censorship and state control, an enormous expansion of the press market took place, in terms of circulation numbers as well as the number of titles. Before 1998 foreign ownership of the Estonian press was minimal. The Baltic media landscape has completely changed since investments of foreign companies (Sweedish and Norwegian) in 1998. Since then Estonia has become the leading country in terms of foreign investment in the Baltic region. As Allan Alakula, Chairman of the Estonian Union of Journalists, emphasized, the level of concentration in Estonian media has reached a very high level and the working conditions are not very good. Journalists don't have collective agreements in private media and there is no place to talk about agreements or bargaining on the company level.
The Norwegian company Schibsted first entered the Estonian market in 1995 when it acquired 24% of the shares of the television channel Kanal 2 and 33% of the newspaper AS Postimees. By 1998 they increased their share in Postimees to 92.5% and Schibsted's changed its name to AS Eesti Meedia, which has become the largest media group in the country. Eesti Media Group owns Kanal 2 and seven newspapers including Postimees, five supplements and 11 magazines. Eesti Media Group has also built a new printing plant, Kroonpress, which is the largest and probably the most-up-to-date printing plant in the Baltic States. The Norwegian Group also created a joint venture (50% each) with the Swedish newspaper publishing company Marieberg (part of the Bonnier Group), called Ekspress Group. Bonnier has left Ekspress group (now it's 100% owned by Hans Luik, a national investor), but it remains the second largest publisher in Estonia. It retains a portfolio of four newspapers, ten magazines and five free city papers. The largest newspaper in Estonia SL/Öhtuleht is the product of a merger between Sönumileht (wholly owned by Eesti Meedia) and Öhtuleht (wholly owned by the Ekspress Group). The tabloid newspaper is equally owned by Eesti Media Group and the Express Group, with a 50% stake each. Schibsted has also created with Marieberg a joint-venture magazine branch called The Estonian Magazine Group through Eesti media Group and Ekspress Group. Estonian Magazine Group dominates the market in Estonia and produces a variety of magazines and specialised publications. The largest magazine is Kroonika with a weekly circulation of around 70 000 and approximately 300 000 readers. Seven out of ten top circulating newspapers and the ten top magazines belonged to these two corporations. According to the data of the Estonian Newspaper Association, they produce 75% of the total circulation of daily newspapers and 35% of the circulation of semi-weeklies and weeklies.
After 1989 state ownership of the media decreased dramatically as a result of privatisation and liberalisation. However, there were considerable differences between various media sectors in terms of the speed and extent of ownership changes. Changes in broadcasting were slow and the market was only partly privatized in 1997. Even with the partial privatization foreign ownership became significant, as the major shareholders of the two most popular channels were foreign companies. In the print media, ownership changes were more striking as privatisation took place within a relatively short period of time. Foreign investors began entering Hungary's print media sector soon after the old system of licensing was abolished in 1989. The 1990s saw a series of ownership changes in the markets through sell-offs, mergers and acquisitions. In 1996, foreign investors held a controlling interest in 60 percent of the daily newspaper market. In 2001 foreign ownership of the Hungarian national newspaper market stood at 83%. Only a minority of the national daily press remains Hungarian-owned or government subsidized.
The dominance of foreign ownership in many media sectors did not initially cause public concern. Particularly during the first stage of the post-communist era foreign media ownership was viewed as contributing towards lessening the influence of the state and political forces in the previously over-politicised media. One of the main reasons why foreign media ownership was welcomed among journalists and the public was that it was perceived to provide publishers with the much-desired independence from political parties and organisations. However, as the 1990s proceeded, concerns were raised about the economic power of foreign media companies, and the lack of effective oversight of the government and state institutions by media whose primary concerns were commercial.
Sanoma Magazines Budapest Kiadoi's operations were founded in 1992. Through the acquisition of the prestigious publishing house EKH/VICO, Sanoma Magazine Budapest became the market leader in Hungary, with 34% of the market shares. Women's magazines, entertainment titles, and TV magazines are the heart of the portfolio. Sanoma Magazines also operates the country's leading portal. The German Axel Springer Verlag is also very active in the Hungarian market, with significant shares in several magazines and newspapers. It has eight daily regional titles and one Sunday title but its main focus is magazine publishing. Springer publishes 16 magazines in Hungary. These include TV listings guides (4), women's magazines (2), puzzle magazines, cookery, interior design titles and two youth titles. The German Heinrich Bauer Verlag publishes four magazines in Hungary (100% of ownership shares): Bravo, Bravo Girl, Buci maci and Tina (women).
The German Bertelsmann has been active in different media in Hungary, especially TV and magazines. In television, the media giant owns RTL Klub, the leading commercial television station in Hungary. The network was launched in 1997 by RTL Group, which owns 49 % of the shares of the broadcasting company. The network covers more than 85% of the country. In addition to broadcasting activities, RTL Klub Enterprises manages the Internet, teletext and audiotext businesses of the commercial television station. Bertelsmann also owns several magazines and one newspaper through Gruner+Jahr. Tele Magazyn is owned by the Deutscher Supplement Verlag branch of Bertelsmann. This magazine focuses on television and human-interest topics. Bertelsmann has a 17.2% stake in the newspaper Nepszabadsag published in Budapest through Gruner+Jahr.
The Swiss Ringier publishes Blikk, the second daily newspaper, Vasarnapi Blikk which is a Sunday paper, as well as the old-established daily sports paper Nemzeti Sport, the third-placed daily newspaper. Ringier also owns the Hungarian quality paper Magyar Hirlap. The Swiss company has also an important level of participation in the newspaper Nepszabadsag through the creation of a joint venture with Axel Springer Verlag and Bertelsmann. In the magazine sector, Ringier started the magazine Kape and TeleSzuper. Another Swiss investor is Marquard Media AG - its branch JMG Magazine Publishing Company publishes six magazines. Marquard also has interests in two radio stations, Slager Radio (15%) and Radio 1 (50%) - the latter, established in 1996, is one of the first commercial radio stations in Hungary. Marquard shares ownership of Radio 1 together with the French media group Lagardère, which owns 50 % of the station through the branch called Eurozet. The magazine Elle Hungary (circulation of 75 000) is als owned by the Lagardère Group.
TV2 started broadcasting on 4 October 1997, covering 98 % of the Hungarian population. It is one of the two new nation-wide private stations in Hungary. The two national channels, TV2 and TV3, were merged into TV2 in February 2000 by Scandinavian Broadcasting System (which is Luxembourg based but US-owned), which shares ownership with Germany's Tele-München Gruppe and the Hungarian MTM Kommunikáció Rt. The German Bertelsmann has the other main channel, RTL-Klub. The Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG) is also active in Hungarian television through Viasat, with eleven free to air TV stations. MTG owns Viasat 3 in Hungary, which is broadcast from the UK. Hungary is also heavily cabled, with over half of all households receiving their TV services via cable. UPC Magyarorszag, part of the Netherlands-based group UPC, but owned by the U.S. Liberty Media, is the dominant provider.
Latvia's geographic position makes it a commercial, financial and transport hub for the Russia/Baltic region. The press and the broadcast media in Latvia generally operate freely, with few legal restrictions on their work and a wide range of political viewpoints. Foreign media ownership is predominantly Sweedish, and the media has been less affected by U.S. interests than in other countries, and in general Latvia's broadcasting law is fairly harmonized with the European Union's Television Without Frontiers directive.
The Sweedish Bonnier, through its stake in Alma Media, has a share in the Baltic News Service and the Business Information Group. Baltic News Service is based in Tallinn. It has a daily distribution of 1000 news headlines in five languages: Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and English. The Business Information Group specializes in business news. Bonnier is one of the two biggest publishers in Latvia through AS Diena, a joint stock company between Bonnier (49% stake) and local private shareholders (51%). Diena AS publishes Diena, Dienas Biznessxxii(circulation of 10 000), Spogulisa and five other regional newspapers. Diena has a very strong position and it is one of the most read newspapers in Latvia with a circulation of approximately 54 000 copies.
The Swedish Modern Times Group is active in Television through Viasat, which enables it to transmit to the three Baltic States. It is the market leader in Latvia in terms of market share with TV 3 Latvia. MTG also owns Star FM, one of the largest radio stations in Latvia with a weekly audience of 323 000 listeners.
It is mostly international companies from Norway and Sweden that have targeted the Lithuanian media landscape. Foreign companies are supporting a policy of investment in television rather than in the daily press or magazine. In terms of investments in the media sector, Lithuania is the second Baltic country but far behind Estonia, which captures the majority of European investment.
The Norwegian Orkla has a small presence in Lithuania through Orkla Press, which is taking charge of Orkla's current newspaper operations in Central Europe. Established in 1991, the branch has grown to be one of the leading newspaper groups in Central Europe. Orkla Press has a Baltic newspaper division called Dzienniki Kraje Baltyckie, which fully owns the regional paper Kauno diena (circulation of 40 000).
The Swedish media company Bonnier plays a small role in terms of market shares in Lithuania with only one newspaper published under the name Verslo Zinios (circulation of 9 000). The business newspaper is moving into the daily press market, increasing editions from one to five per week in recent years. Bonnier has a broadcasting activity with LNK TV, the second TV station broadcasting nationwide in Lithuania. This private company's main stock is owned by Marieberg, part of Bonnier media company. The Swedish Modern Times Group owns TV 3 Lithuania, which is one of the largest commercial channels in Lithuania. MTG owns also Tango TV.
In 1989, Poland began developing independent media. Censorship was lifted, the Communist party's newspaper chain was dissolved and a new press law was passed in Parliament. Newspapers were privatised and the country's former radio and television monopoly was terminated with the enactment of the 1991 broadcasting law. Press ownership laws in Poland have been very permissive towards foreign investors (in contrast to broadcasting, where a restriction exists on the permissible extent of foreign ownership in a company) and it is now estimated that almost 80% of the press is in the hands of foreign capital. German and Swiss groups own the majority of magazines, and a Norwegian group owns the largest share of the newspaper market. The main problem for the Polish press sector is its independence. Foreign companies are trying to impose their Western management in a completely different environment. Laws protecting journalists are weak and large media groups take advantage of this. For example, foreign publishers deny the role of organizations representing journalists, set low wages and royalties, and avoid signing collective employment agreements. In order to cut down the costs, publishers often prefer to employ paid amateurs than experienced professionals, which has resulted in a decline in the quality of journalism. Lower standards go together with a widespread demand for sensational, entertainment-style journalism. There is a currently a great deal of controversy as the Polish government shapes changes in media laws, and particularly on regulations to limit media concentration.
ten years of evolution and rearrangements, German investors have become
a power on the print market. The press is dominated by German publishing
concerns. In fact, 50% of shares on the market for colour magazines are
distributed among the following German press giants: Passauer Neue Presse
(PNP), Bauer, Axel Springer Verlag, and Gruner+Jahr. PNP moved into Poland
in 1994 when it acquired some regional dailies and founded Polskapresse.
It now owns 12 regional newspapers with sales of 1.3m, which are printed
at presses in Gdansk, Poznan, Lodz, Wrozlaw and Krakow. It also prints
three TV magazines with total sales of 2.6m. In addition it has its own
distribution service for its print products, a direct marketing company,
Eurodirect, a media agency, Media Tak, and an online classified ad site,
gratka.pl. Bauer invested approximately $40-50 million in the Polish magazine
market in 2001. It is now the market leader in terms of revenue ( 140.7
millions) and market share (22%) in Poland. In Poland, Springer owns fourteen
titles including a women's weekly, Pani Domu (500,000) a women's monthly,
Olivia (470,000) and two monthly youth titles Dziewczyni (180,000) and
Popcorn (150,000). This portfolio of magazines allows Springer to be a
major player with an 11% market shares and revenues of 70 million.
Bertelsmann, through Gruner+Jahr, also has a strong position in the Polish
Orkla is the second biggest investor in Poland (spending around $50 million according to the Polish Agency for Foreign Investment), and has become the leader in the Polish newspaper market through Orkla Press. Established in 1991, the branch now has a market share of 23% and circulation of 621,721. Orkla Press owns 51 percent of Presspublica, publisher of the national daily, Rzeczpospolita, with a circulation 199,078 and also has shares in 13 local daily newspapers. They have recently bought publishing house Wydawnictwo Lubpress, which publishes Gazeta Lubuska daily, one of the country's largest local newspapers with an average circulation of 65,000.
There have also been significant Swiss and French investments in the magazine market. The Swiss Edipresse, which has been operating in Poland since 1995. In February 1997, Edipresse Polska launched the bi-monthly magazine Viva! - the Polish equivalent of Paris-Match. The magazine was successful with an average of over 250,000 copies of each issue sold. Today, Edipresse Polska is the country's leading magazine publisher in terms of advertising revenue and the third in sales. It publishes about ten publications including the leading magazine in the women's press, Przyjaciólka, which has a regular print run of over 1,000,000 copies. The Swiss Bonnier has been in Poland since 1999. It publishes the daily Superexpress and Puls Biznesu (circulation 20,700). In 2001, Puls Biznesu was selected as the Newspaper of the Year in Poland. The French Marquard Media AG, through its branch JMG Magazine Publishing Company, publishes nine titles overall including Cosmopolitan, Playboy and sport magazines. The Lagardère is present through Hachette Filipacchi Polska, which publishes 4 different magazines. ELLE is the most famous magazine published by the group with a circulation of 125,000. Lagardère also owns several printing plants and distribution companies, and has interests in two radio stations, Radio Zet and Radio Stacja.
Poland's public service broadcaster, Telewizja Polska (TVP), faces a crisis of funding partly because the growth of commercial broadcasting has hit audience shares. Foreign owned commercial broadcasters are taking a greater share of the market in both terrestrial television, and cable and satellite. The German Bertelsmann fully owns, through the RTL Group, the commercial television RTL 7 which was launched in 1996 and is targeted at young people. RTL 7 opened its Internet site in 1998, and has built it into one of the leading Polish TV sites. The Luxembourg-based and American-financed Scandinavian Broadcasting Systems acquired a 33% interest in TVN, Poland's third largest television station. TVN was launched in October 1997 and has since become the third largest broadcaster, covering 83% of the country and gaining 19.8% of the market share. Vivendi Universal is present in Poland through the Canal+ Group, which specialises in pay TV and content production. Canal+ launched pay TV in Poland in 1996. It is called Canal+ Polska and it has 253,000 subscribers. It is available as a terrestrial pay service and by cable and satellite. Poland has the largest cable market in central Europe and the largest cable operator is UPC Telewizja Kablowa, with over a million subscribers in Poland's eight largest cities as well as smaller towns. It was acquired by the Netherlands-based UPC in 1999 - UPC is in turn owned by John Malone's US global media group, Liberty Media.
Privatisation of the broadcast media in Romania have been extensive and by the end of 2000 there were 173 licensed television stations and 297 radio stations. Inevitably this has meant a major expansion of foreign ownership including a number of US owned media companies (like Viacom which established MTV Romania). One of the clear tendencies in recent years in Romania has been media concentration. But although some of the big players are foreign, the biggest actors are Romanian businessmen with ties to political parties. MediaPro is the biggest media company followed by Intact, a company founded by a well-known businessman and founder of a political party.
The Swiss Ringier has created a branch called Ringier Romania and is the leading foreign publisher and market leader in Romania's business publications segment. Today, Ringier publishes around ten print products including the tabloid daily paper Libertatea. The Swiss Edipresse has been in the Romanian market since 1998 in association with Antonios Liberis, its Greek partner, forming The Romanian Publishing Group. The partnership was enlarged at the beginning of 2002 with the integration of the Romanian publications belonging to the Axel Springer Group. RPG publishes eight magazines in Romania including well-known international titles like Avantaje or Elle.
Burda is the main German player in Romania with participation in 7 weeklies and magazines through the Burda Verlag Osteuropa (BVO), which is taking charge of all publishing operations in this region. BVO is the product of a partnership between Burda and Italian publishing group RCS Editori (Burda owns 80% and RCS 20%). The magazines published in Romania through Burda Ofa, a subsidiary entirely controlled by BVO, are the same as in neighbouring countries. Burda tries to standardise the content and the page-layout of their magazines, which cuts production costs and increases profits. The German WAZ is a small player in the Romanian media market. It opted essentially for the newspaper sector with a 51% interest in the daily Trustul des Presa National. WAZ owns also a 50% stake in Romania Libera through a joint venture with Trustul Mehrh. The German Axel Springer Verlag owns 8 magazine titles including Elle. Some other German players are involved in Romania such as Bauer (1 magazine) and Gruner+Jahr (with evenementul Zilei )
In 1999, the Finnish Sanoma Magazines International and Hearst founded Sanoma-Hearst Romania (SHR), in which SMI owns a 65% stake. SHR launched several magazines and was quickly able to gain a leading market share. Sanoma-Hearst Romania publishes four titles, including Cosmopolitan, and also operate Romania's leading consumer Internet portal.
The French Lagardère has owned Europa FM since 2000 and also has a stake in Radio Total. When Lagardère invested in this radio station, the situation was difficult. After restructuring, Radio Total became very popular in Bucharest. Lagardère has adopted the French format with programs arranged every day around 40 sections of information intersected by musical parts and entertainment shows. Lagardère has also created Radio 21, a youth station broadcast in Bucharest where the headquarters are. Radio 21 has now the objective of broadcasting its programmes on 12 local stations so that they can reach almost all the country. Lagardère group is focused on radio in Romania but they also publish the internationally known Elle magazine (circulation 25,000) through the Romanian Publishing Group SRL.
The state broadcaster Romanian Radio and Television (TVR) was split in 1994 to form two distinct organizations TVR1 and TVR2. In 1995 TVR 1, the flagship channel, was watched consistently by two thirds of TV audiences. Five years later after the launch of commercial channels the audience share is down to 25%. It's major competitor is ProTV, which was formed as a joint venture between Bermuda-based Central European Media and Romanian entrepreneurs in 1995. It now has an audience share of 25%, and in contrast to TVR1, it has mostly English language programming. The Luxembourg-based and American-financed SBS owns 86% of Ameron Ltd., which operate Prima TV in Romania. This station was established in 1997 and covers 87% of the Romanian media landscape. The programmes are broadcasted by satellite and cable. Currently, Prima TV is the second private television after ProTV in terms of market shares and audiences. Rupert Murdoch's global media group, News Corporation, through Balkan News Service fully owns the digital TV channel B1TV (Bucuresti 1 TV). The channel was launched in December 2001 and includes news, talk shows and entertainment in addition to cultural, economic and political programmes focusing on Bucharest's life. The company's goal is to officially launch the channel within the entire country and begin satellite broadcasting. Cable companies are also predominantly foreign-owned. Romanian Cable Systems (RCS), the largest cable operator in Romania, is owned by US and Czech investors and operates 60 networks in Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, each carrying between 30 and 44 channels. It has about 800,000 subscribers. UPC Romania, part of the Netherlands-based group owned by Liberty Media, had 320,000 subscribers in 2002.
Changes within the Serbian media began shortly before Milosevic fell from power in October 2000 and accelerated rapidly from that day. Once it was clear that he would be replaced, media outlets rushed to announce changes and to denounce the past. Radio-Television Serbia, a Milosevic mouthpiece, was set on fire and senior editors were removed. The station's name changed temporarily to New RTS and new editors were appointed. Similar changes occurred in other media. The former pro-Milosevic media have now been freed of political censorship. Those, which fiercely defended their independence under the previous regime, have continued to report more comprehensively than those media that merely switched sides. The daily Danas and weekly Vreme are critical of the new government and the weekly NIN and Radio B92 remain confrontational. Various government or political groups control most of the media companies.
The Politika newspaper, the oldest daily in the Balkans, has been part of a 25 million deal with the WAZ Media group. The agreement is a 50-50 percent partnership in a new company, and the contract includes a detailed distribution of authority: Politika will be in charge of editorial policy and WAZ will deal with investment. The new company will continue to publish all of Politika's current publications, and none of them can be discontinued without the Yugoslav partner's consent. But word is going round that Politika's management has already agreed to shut down most of the current periodicals. WAZ acquired the Podgorica daily, Vijesti, in 2003 and there are reports that it also plans to acquire the Novi Sad daily, Dnevnik. Burda has a small presence in the Serbian market, however it still publishes 3 magazines. Just like everywhere else, Burda is associated in the Central European Region with RCS Editori. They publish Lisa, the largest women magazine in Serbia. Gruner+Jahr has penetrated the Serbian market in collaboration with the Swiss group Ringier. Gruner owns a 51% stake and Ringier the remaining 49%. They publish together Blic and Blic News. Holtzbrinck has taken the majority share of Privredni Pregled, the single Yugoslav economic daily, through the Czech Economia, which is a business and information magazine. Handelsblatt owns Economia, which is a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck. The deal was agreed in early 2003.
The legacy of the economic and political networks rooted in the Communist era still remain powerful with weak institutions unable to challenge corruption in politics, the judiciary system or business arenas. It was reported that 13 of the 100 best-known Slovak companies were run by former state security agents and collaborators, and 23 by informers. Since the adoption of the 1993 Broadcasting Law, there has been more press freedom despite intermittent attempts by the government to re-impose direct control by increasing newspaper taxes and reducing access to newsprint. The modifications of the broadcasting law also permitted foreign investment without regulation, with the exception of television. The Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission (CBR), which is responsible for allocating licenses to terrestrial and cable TV companies, permits foreign ownership, although licensing preference is given to foreign applicants planning to contribute to original domestic programming. License conditions impose a limit of 49 % of shares for foreign investors.
Passauer Neue Presse started to invest in the Slovakian market in 1999 after the country had spent five years in isolation under the rule of the nationalist authoritarian, Vladimir Meciar. PNP first purchased the eastern Slovakian daily newspaper called Luc and soon afterwards, it bought additional Slovak language dailies and weeklies throughout the country. In 2000, all the portfolio of the German group was brought into a joint venture created with SME Group. This operation allowed PNP to create a joint publishing house for daily and weekly newspapers called Petit Press SA. Both Slovakian and Hungarian newspapers are published from there. Gruner+Jahr publishes in Slovakia under exactly the same titles as in the Czech Republic. When they invested in the market, those CEE countries were still united as Czechoslovakia. After the separation, the German group separated the edition of magazines but not the production sites.Bauer applies the same strategy as in other CEE countries with uniform magazines like Bravo, Bravo Girl, Tina. Holtzbrinck publishes the Hospordarske noviny, an economic daily paper, together with Dow Jones. The same cooperation between the two groups is in place for the publication Economia where Holtzbrinck holds 45% of the ownership share. Motorpresse owns 55% of Auto motor a sport and Auto Aktual. Just like other companies, Motorpresse chose to publish formatted magazines across Central Europe.
The Swiss Ringier has been active in Slovakia since the beginning of the nineties. Euroskop a.s., owned 100% by Ringier, is the market leader in the magazine sector. With a 60% market share, it has the largest proportion of Slovakia's readership. Zivot a family magazine with a circulation of some 130,000, and Eurotelevizia, a programme guide are among the country's publications with the highest circulation figures. A smaller player is the The Finnish Sanoma Magazines, which acquired a major share in Strategie na Slovensku - the leader of the B2B market in Slovakia - and changed its name into SMAGS (Sanoma magazines Slovakia).
Public television broadcasting services are especially weak since Slovak Television (STV) has had to cut budgets and staff. Until the launch of the first commercial station, TV Markíza, in 1996, STV 1 had an audience share of 50%. This has now slumped to 13%. TV Markíza was launched with backing from CME, the Bermuda-based company who has a 70% economic interest in the station. The station gradually reached a 58% viewing share by 2001. It has been accused of political bias, openly supporting particular parties and presidential candidates. TA3, the first all-news TV channel in Slovakia, was launched in September 2002. TA3 opened with a focus on the anti-terrorism war, sending its reporter to Peshawar to become the first Slovak media outlet to have a journalist cover the events in Pakistan. The all news TV station made a deal with a British company, Millenium Electronics Ltd, which took a 55% stake in TA3 in exchange for a $3m start-up capital injection. Millenium's owners, their business activities and a source of their capital remain unidentified. Millenium has been linked to British offshore firms in the local Slovak press. The company is said to be interested in selling out in three to four years time, possibly to a media investor. TA3, broadcast by satellite and cable, airs 17 hours of news a day and has 5 million viewers. Foreign capital is extensive in the cable television markets. The dominant cable provider, as is the case in many of CEE countries, is the Netherlands-based UPC, which has around 300,000 subscribers
Foreign ownership is present in Slovenia but strong local players still control important sections of the market. One reason foreign capital has been entering Slovenia's media space rather slowly is that Slovenians are a conservative public who find it hard to break the habit of reading the same newspapers for years. The legislation limiting media concentration in Slovenia has also been stronger. The Mass Media Act adopted in 1994 specified restrictions on ownership, cross-ownership and foreign ownership (as less than 33% in any media enterprise). Since investors found a way to circumvent this law by using funds to take participation in media enterprises, the new media law voted in 2001 has now a chapter concerning the regulation of investment funds. The 2001 Mass Media act was intended to prevent concentration of ownership. Any share in ownership amounting to more than 20 percent must be reported to the Ministry of Culture, which must approve all acquisitions. Real restrictions exist in the area of cross-ownership - for example, when a print media organization wants to take control over broadcasting companies. All in all, these restrictions are not really attractive for foreign capital.
The German Burda produces 200 magazines and newspapers in 28 countries. The group expanded in Central Europe by creating the Burda Verlag Osteuropa (BVO), responsible for all publishing operations in this region. BVO is the product of a partnership between Burda and Italian publishing group RCS Editori (Burda owns 80%, RCS 20%). In Slovenia, Burda Slovenia operates the magazine market. It currently owns 8 titles. The German Motorpresse has a small presence in Slovenia with a 10% stake in Moto Media, which publish 3 sports magazines. Moto Media publishes Auto Magazyn (circulation of 16000), Grand Prix Magazyn (6500) and GRIF (5500).
The Sweedish Bonnier has also interests in Slovenia where the group publishes Finance, a business paper. Bonnier transformed this weekly into a daily and the circulation rose by 20 percent. The Austrian printing house Leykam Medien AG was the first to understand that starting new newspapers in Slovenia was an uncertain project. Leykam preferred to invest in an established newspaper from Maribor called Vecer. First it purchased their printing house, which had been separated from the newspaper in the privatization process. It is called Leykam Tiskarna. The printing house has numerous clients in the magazine market and it prints Vecer. Later, it managed to gain a 10 percent share in the ownership of the paper itself. Today, the stake of Leykam Medien AG in the daily sector has grown to 19.58%.